Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Good Day

Any day spent with friends is a really good day!
Quilt friends, Sheila, Kathy and Mary.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Garden Maze

It's finally Spring and I’ve got a May Day quilt to share. It was inspired by Marian Edwards, whose beautiful blog is a must read for anyone interested in antique and reproduction quilts, especially of the small variety.

Marian made her little quilt with bits and pieces left over from other quilt projects. I had similar bits lying around my own sewing room:

a single Dresden Plate block,

a couple appliqu├ęd flower blocks,

and some strips of 1930's style fabric.

These bits were left over from classes I've taught. If you make a lot of class samples or demo blocks, try making them from similar styles of fabric. That way, they can be used together in another project, rather than collect dust in your sewing space. My choice of 1930's fabrics was a simple one; anything made with these prints looks sweet and cheerful.

My friend, Kathy Smith, used the pretty pieces to create a miniature 1930's style sampler quilt. Of course, she had to add quite a bit to the remnants I gave her, but what a worthwhile effort!  She brought new life to what certainly would have remained useless scraps, if left in my care.

Kathy hand quilted it in simple designs reminiscent of 1930's quilts.

I've named it "Garden Maze" for the labyrinthine pattern created by the strip pieced blocks. It measures 27” square and is backed with a sweet jonquil print.

Our grand kitty, Gandalf, laid claim to the quilt as we tried to take pictures. I love the way his little tippy toes rest right at the edge. 

I hope Spring has sprung where you are!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Birthday Treats

What’s sweeter on a birthday than cake and ice cream? How about a new doll quilt from my friend Barb?

I’ve mentioned before, our tradition of swapping doll quilts on birthdays. Half the fun is the anticipation, knowing exactly what the gift will be, yet trying to guess which pattern and fabrics Barb will use. She's delighted me every time!

This year’s birthday quilt is a Courthouse Steps Log Cabin, made from double pink fabrics and shirting prints, particular favorites of both Barb's and mine.

Each log measures ¾”.

Of course, Barb included a surprise on the back of the quilt too. This time it‘s Parisien advertising labels ~ so pretty!

There were plenty of birthday treats from other friends as well. Terri baked a tray of mini cupcakes, using this classic Chicago restaurant recipe. They were moist, light, and way too easy to pop into my mouth whole. When Linda visited a few days later, she couldn't have known that the peppermint ice cream she brought for dessert would be used as a prop in a photo shoot (or that she‘d be enlisted as photographer).   

Thank you, dear friends, for indulging me so beautifully, so lovingly and so sweetly on my birthday. Your friendship enriches this tiny world I live in and makes it easier to face each day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Every Stitch a Blessing, Every Stitch a Prayer

This is not the blog post I hoped to start the new year with. My dad’s health has been declining since Christmas and sadly, he passed away last week. Dad had Lewy Body Dementia, a cruel combination of symptoms similar to both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Dad died peacefully in his sleep, while in the care of hospice. He didn’t suffer, he didn’t linger and for that we are grateful. He'll be remembered by many as a cheerful and fun loving spirit, a devoted husband, a great dad and grandfather and an all around good guy.

People handle grief in different ways. For me, it 's natural to turn to needle and thread for solace. During the mid 1990’s, my needle got quite a workout when we lost several family members and friends within a few short years: a beloved aunt and uncle, my dear brother and his partner, a favorite grade school teacher, and the owner of the quilt shop where I worked. In the midst of it all, I also received my diagnosis of MS.

It was tempting to wallow in self pity during those years, but I had to keep it together for my health and family’s sake. In true “fake it till you make it” fashion, I turned to quilting to cope with grief and loss.

I worked intuitively, without a pattern or color scheme, randomly pulling fabrics from my scrap basket, giving them a casual trim with scissors, and putting them in piles of lights and darks. When I had enough pieces to run through the machine, I sewed them into "liberated" log cabin blocks.


What began as mindless stitching became a prayerful experience. Snip, sort, sew. Snip, sort, sew. The quiet focus and familiar rhythm helped soothe my broken heart. 

This may not be the prettiest quilt I've ever made, but each stitch contains a blessing and a prayer for someone I love. It's a mourning quilt of sorts, and a testament to the therapeutic value of quilting.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Long ago, before information was at our fingertips within seconds of an Internet search, life was different, especially when it came to family entertainment. Before Netflix, before YouTube or any type of home TV recording devices, we simply had to wait all year for the annual broadcast of "Wizard of Oz" at Thanksgiving or "It's a Wonderful Life" and Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" in December. If you happened to miss your favorite holiday film, you missed it until it rolled around the following year.

The same was true for another holiday favorite, the annual National Public Radio broadcast of humorist John Henry Faulk's "Christmas Story." Listening to his recollection of a special childhood Christmas became as much a holiday tradition in our family as hanging up stockings or decorating the tree.

We lovingly dubbed his story “Sandy Claus and the Stripedy Candy” because of the narrator’s rich Texas drawl and it's for this reason I recommend you listen to the story rather than just read it. The dialect adds to its charm.

I can find this broadcast Online any time I want now, but wonder if it was the waiting for it each year that made it seem so very special. See what you think. Find a few quiet moments to share the story with your family.

Wishing you love, joy, and a very merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

You’ve Got Mail

A package arrived on my doorstep,

and even though I was expecting it and knew what it contained,

I wasn’t prepared for the color and texture that exploded from the box, as I opened a quilt from Wanda Hanson.

It’s a Streak of Lightning quilt, the latest of many Zig Zag quilts Wanda has made. I’m crazy about this pattern and watched with interest as her project progressed, finally asking if the quilt was spoken for. It was not, and Wanda graciously gifted it to me.

The hand dyed fabrics sparkle and glow like stained glass and I just can’t decide which combination of vibrant colors is my favorite.

It covers me perfectly from nose to toes and is just wide enough to keep me warm without entangling my arms in extra quilt.

Whether I’m snuggled under the quilt or admiring it from across the room, those colorful zig zags make me smile. Thank you, Wanda, for a gift that warms both my body and soul.

  Details and Links

~36” x 63”
~Zig Zag quilt tutorial by Sujata Shah, The Root Connection
~Hand dyed cotton fabrics by Vicki Welsh

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Party’s Over: Confessions of a Control Freak on Thanksgiving Day

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was quiet and casual. My husband did all the cooking and William and his girlfriend were here to share our meal.

I had a blog post all prepared about my unsuccessful efforts to balance MS symptoms with my perfectionist tendencies at holiday time. It boiled down to my wanting to control things I have no control over and having a hard time relinquishing control to those who don’t take control quite the way I want them to. You know, a typical family holiday scenario.

My husband said that if I wanted to focus on the negative, I deserved to feel miserable. So, instead of whining, I've decided to sum up my frustration with a single photo.

This was our guest's view from her seat at the Thanksgiving table. Apparently, I was the only person bothered by this mess, since no one else thought to hide it before dinner.

CLICK PHOTO for the festive details.

Happy Thanksgiving!